July 5, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
If you are reading this article on a printed copy of the Guardian, what you have in your hand will, just 15 years from now, look as archaic as a Western Union telegram does today. In less than 50 years, according to Clay Shirky, it won’t exist at all. The reason, he says, is very simple, and very obvious: if you are 25 or younger, you’re probably already reading this on your computer screen. “And to put it in one bleak sentence, no medium has ever survived the indifference of 25-year-olds.”
You have probably never even heard of Shirky, and until this interview I hadn’t either. When I ask him to define what he does, he laughs, and admits that often when he’s leaving a party someone will say to him, “What exactly is it you do?” His standard reply – “I work on the theory and practice of social media”– is not just wilfully opaque, but crushingly dreary, which is funny, because he is one of the most illuminating people I’ve ever met.
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